NVR has become the second public builder in the last few days to announce it is moving into the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., market.

NVR announced it is bringing its Ryan Homes brand into Pinellas County with town homes and villas that start at $150,000. Pinellas, a small peninsula surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, is the most densely populated county in the state and new home products are scarce. NVR found well-located land in St. Petersburg, Seminole, and Palm Harbor, all close to beaches.

Meritage Homes announced Friday that it is expanding beyond the Orlando market, which has been one of the company’s most profitable divisions, into the Tampa Bay area. It did not, however, list where its new communities will be in the area, which includes Tampa’s county, Hillsborough; Pasco County to the north; and Pinellas County.

At the same time, Meritage announced it will wind down its operations in Las Vegas.

"The Tampa area is one of the most attractive home building markets in the southeastern United States, with the second-largest economy in Florida and strong job growth expected," Steve Hilton, Meritage’s CEO, said in making the announcement. “It offers us another opportunity to redeploy our resources into an area where we can grow and leverage the expertise of our current managers in the Southeast."

The Tampa Bay market is showing job growth in 2011, up 11,300 jobs by the third quarter, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence (HWMI). While the area has depended on lower-wage service-sector jobs as the local economy's bread and butter, it also boasts a better-than-average share of tech jobs.

Total residential permits, too, are expected to be up 41% to more than 9,000 permits issued by the end of 2011, according to HWMI. However, a large number of those permits will go toward for-rent multifamily as unemployment remains an issue in the area. However, single-family permits, too are expected to climb at 29% to 5,668 for the year.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Tampa, FL.